Archive for January, 2006

Keeping Regular

Monday, January 23rd, 2006

How do I become a regular at a bar? — Dave

Young fellow, I should skewer you for the sheer dunderheadedness of your question. Americans, however, are wont to say that “There is no stupid question.” That assertion is patently false, but in the spirit of happy society I’ll instead answer the subtext of your question, not the logical child’s play writ in the words.

What you are really asking — let’s just say — is how do you choose the bar at which you wish your name to be known, your drink to be made correctly, and your knapsack to be left unmolested. This is a difficult matter. Save on the roughest or most exclusive of thoroughfares, bars are democratic institutions (that is not to say Democratic). If you keep showing up, odds are you’ll get served, and eventually remembered. They do, after all, want your money.

But one does not want to find oneself beloved in a public house which one does not love, and so you must choose with care. The process I recommend is rather Oriental, but please bear with me. I hold that you must visit one thousand bars — more is certainly acceptable, but please no less. Most of them will be unenthralling, many will be substandard, and quite a few will prove delightful. But one night, when you’ve forgotten that you’re looking for a home away from home, a place to gather your thoughts and scatter your wits, you will order your drink and it will be made just so. And the barman’s tie will be knotted in a full Windor, tucked neatly into his vest, and the barmaid’s bosom will be ever so slightly untucked, and you will know you have found it, a place you can return to again and again. Your bar will have chosen you.

On the other hand, the place ’round the corner will certainly do, too. One shouldn’t have to travel too far.

Sparkling Dialogue

Wednesday, January 4th, 2006

Some prick at my New Year’s party told me that I couldn’t call the stuff I was serving “champagne” because it didn’t come from France. Is he right? And if so, who the fuck cares? I still call my facial tissue “kleenex” even if it’s the store brand. — Darren

Young fellow, your guest was correct in his assertion — even if he behaved incorrectly in bringing such a small faux pas to the attention of his host. To be called Champagne, a sparkling wine must not only be French, it must come from the Champagne region (in the northeast corner, just west of pivotal Alsace and Lorraine).

There are other proprietary names for sparkling wines, too: Cava, which generally comes from Catalonia in Spain, and Prosecco, from Italy’s Veneto region and which is made from the grape of the same name. Both are delightful, less fizzy, alternatives to Champagne. (And please, if you mix a Bellini cocktail, use Prosecco, not Champagne!)

While it is a poorly behaved guest who corrects his host’s jubilant cry of “Champagne!” it is nonetheless vital that standards be maintained. And speaking of which: language, young fellow. Watch your language.